It’s a fact universally acknowledged that people want to be happy. The ideal approach, however, is far more of a mystery.
From the beginning of time, philosophers and researchers alike have pondered how humans can achieve ultimate bliss, and thankfully, some of them have appeared on the TED stage to share their findings.
Some of their tactics are surprising, and some are surprisingly simple, but regardless, each of these talks will bring you one step closer to understanding happiness and how to achieve it.
The Harvard psychologist explains the fallacy behind the notion that to achieve happiness, one must get what they want. He uses psychology and neuroscience to explain that what we think makes us happy is, oftentimes, completely wrong.
'Natural happiness is what we get when we get what we wanted, and synthetic happiness is what we make when we don't get what we wanted,' he says. 'In our society, we have a strong belief that synthetic happiness is of an inferior kind.'
Iyengar, a psycho-economist, debunks the idea that the more choices you have, the better decisions you make. In fact, she says, when you give people 10 or more options, they tend to make poorer decisions in areas like healthcare and investing.
Ultimately, Iyengar says it's about accepting that constraint can in some contexts be more satisfying than freedom.
This monk and interfaith scholar's approach to happiness is simple: slow down, look where you're going, and above all, be grateful.
'A grateful world is a world of joyful people,' he says.
In less than five minutes, journalist Hill makes the case for having less stuff in a smaller space and lays out three simple rules for editing your life.
'By all means, we should buy and own some great stuff. But we want stuff that we're going to love for years, not just stuff,' he says.
Time for a little life editing.
Flow, according to Csikszentmihalyi, a psychology and management professor at Claremont Graduate University, is a state of heightened focus and immersion in activities like art, play, and work. This, he says, makes life worth living.
According to the behavioural economist, every individual is divided into an experiencing self and a remembering self. The differences between these two selves are critical to our understanding of human happiness.
He explains that what makes you happy in the immediate present won't necessarily make you happy when you reflect on your life overall -- and it's important to consider that idea the next time you're making a big decision.
Money can actually buy happiness according to this social science researcher -- the key is not spending it on yourself.
In this ten-minute talk, Norton shares fascinating research about the many ways pro-social spending can benefit you, your work, and other people.
When it comes to happiness, there may in fact be a way to fake it until we make it: by smiling more.
Gutman, CEO of HealthTap, shares surprising research that suggests a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being and help you live a longer, healthier, happier life.
Iyer, a travel writer, believes that in our ever chaotic and noisy lives, we need to slow down, tune out, and give ourselves permission to be still.
He explores the insight that comes from stillness and the strategies we all can use to take back a few minutes every day.
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